There's always something new to discover at FortWhyte Alive.
Gone are the golden days of autumn, the coloured leaves and honking flocks of geese heading south. But wait, what’s this? Apparently someone forgot to tell these geese who are still chilling out (literally!) on the frozen waters of Lake Devonian! What’s going on? Why are they still here?
There is not a definitive answer to this question, but one thing is certain: these geese are in no danger of freezing and they will migrate when they are ready. Canada geese can survive, even in extremely cold temperatures, as long as they have access to food and even a little bit of open water. They will not become frozen in the ice and can take off or land just as easily on a solid surface as they can on water.
Several factors may be contributing to when the geese decide to leave, other than the temperature. A later spring might have led to goslings hatched later in the season, needing a little longer to prepare for their first migratory flight. It is also possible that warm weather in late October kept the ground from freezing and allowed geese continued access to food and water sources.
Whatever the reason, there is no doubt that the dark geese dotting Lake Devonian’s sparkling white surface are a special sight not to be missed.
Seen on Site November 2nd & 4th!
Scientific Name: Lanius excubitor
DescriptionWhen you first see a northern shrike, you might think it is a cute, medium sized song bird. But in reality it is a fierce hunter adorning grey, black, and white plumage. It has a large bill that is hooked at the end and a narrow, black mask across its face. The female is slightly browner in colour with a less distinctive mask than the males. Northern shrikes, in comparison with loggerhead shrikes, have larger bills and narrower masks. Northern Shrikes occur in the northern Manitoba tundra and taiga, and cross through the province during the migratory season.
Food SourcesShrikes are the only songbirds to consistently prey on vertebrate animals, which include smaller mammals and birds. Since they lack talons, they stun or kill their prey with blows from their powerful beaks. Then, if they do not eat their prey immediately, they impale it on thorns or barbed wire. This serves not only as a food cache but also marks territory and attracts mates.
HabitatThe northern shrike spends its summer months in the taiga or in open country, with medium or tall trees and shrubs. During the winter months, they can be found in shrubby fields, wetlands, and along forest edges. Shrike nests can be so deep that while incubating, all that can be seen of the female is the tip of her tail.
RemarksThe scientific name of the northern shrike, Lanius excubitor, translates to “butcher watchman”. A group of shrikes are collectively known as an “abattoir” and a “watch” of shrikes.
On Thursday, October 30, FortWhyte Alive held their annual Spooky Twilight Run. 196 participants strapped on a headlamp and ran through the forests of FWA at night, many in festive halloween attire!
Congratulations to everyone who participated. The race results can be found at the links below.
Proceeds from this event will benefit FortWhyte's environmental education programs for school children.
Scientific Name: Ondatra zibethicus
A muskrat is a small, beaver-like rodent. Its total body length including tail is approximately 60 cm (2 ft) and can weigh between 0.5 and 1.8 kg(2-4 lbs). Muskrats have dark brown, dense, glossy fur with white areas under the chin and belly, and a rat-like tail. Their eyes and ears are small, and have hind feet that are partially webbed, perfect for life in the water.
Muskrats’ favorite foods are cattails but they eat many other plants, such as sedges, rushes, water lilies, and pond weeds. They can sometimes have be seen dragging their food out to feeding platforms composed of cut vegetation, floating in water. At FortWhyte Alive they help keep cattails from overrunning our wetland banks.
Muskrats are found all across North America near wetlands. They dislike currents and avoid rocky areas. Their homes are called “push-ups” and are made of cattails, bulrushes, and mud that can be up to 2.7 metres in diameter and 1.7 metres high.In winter, muskrats don’t hibernate like numerous other rodents, they stay awake and find food under the ice.
Females produce 1-2 litters per year of 4-7 young, with a gestation of 3-4 weeks. The young are born blind and with no fur, which starts to grow about 1 week after they’re born. At 2 weeks, their eyes open and they begin to learn how to swim and dive. They are weaned at 4 weeks and are driven away by the mother to find homes of their own.
FortWhyte Alive is excited to announce a new partnership with local award-winning company Diversity Food Services, to operate all on-site restaurant and catering services, beginning November 1, 2014.
Diversity’s Chef du Cuisine, Kelly Cattani, winner of the 2013 Manitoba Gold Plates competition, will be the primary on-site manager of the Buffalo Stone Café and all catering. In keeping with the missions of both organizations, menus will feature local, organic and sustainable foods cooked from scratch, including those grown at FortWhyte’s own on-site farm. Diversity recently received certification from LEAF (Leaders in Environmentally Accountable Food Service), demonstrating their commitment to sustainable practices in all aspects of their operation.
“FortWhyte is thrilled to be partnering with an organization such as Diversity whose commitment to sustainability fits so closely with our own” said Ian Barnett, FortWhyte Alive’s Director of Operations. “We look forward to sharing this new direction with loyal and new patrons of the Buffalo Stone Café.”
“This new partnership with FortWhyte represents a tremendous opportunity for Diversity to showcase our sustainable cuisine to a whole new audience” said Ian Vickers, Chief Operating Officer of Diversity.
In preparation for this new direction, the Buffalo Stone Café will be closed for daytime service from October 14-October 31, reopening on Saturday November 1.
One of Canada’s foremost environmental education centre’s, FortWhyte Alive is dedicated to providing programming, natural settings and facilities for environmental education, outdoor recreation and social enterprise. In so doing, FortWhyte promotes awareness and understanding of the natural world and actions leading to sustainable living. The Buffalo Stone Café will operate Monday – Friday 9 am-4:30 pm and Saturday/Sunday 10 am-4:30pm.
Established in 2009, Diversity Food Services is a joint venture between the University of Winnipeg Community Renewal Corporation and SEED Winnipeg. The social enterprise delivers nutritional, local food while providing meaningful employment for new Canadians, Indigenous peoples, downtown community residents and University students. Find out more at: www.uwinnipeg.ca/index/food-services-overview